Trying to Justify the Present by Rewriting the Past
“History is written by the victors.”
“Those who can’t change the future, are left with rewriting the past.”
-Zehava Galon, Leader of Israel’s Meretz Party
As the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler rose to power, it targeted identifiable groups as enemies of the state starting with communists and gypsies and the mentally infirm. Its real target, however, was the Jews. Once in power, a series of laws were enacted first restricting Jews in countless ways and then forcing them to wear the now infamous yellow Star of David badge on their clothing. Eventually, they would be rounded up and ‘emigrated’ from Germany to camps in Eastern Europe.
They became slave labour and when they could no longer work, they were simply killed. By 1941, the killing of Jews had become unofficial Nazi policy and was left in the hands of local and regional leaders to organize.
Initially, Jews were shot but there were a number of problems that arose. Bullets were expensive and necessary for the war effort. It was a time consuming process that did not rise to the standards of typical German efficiency and finally, it was having a negative effect on the morale of members of the SS doing the killing; something Nazi bureaucrats had failed to consider.
By the summer of 1941, the Nazis were experimenting with different methods of mass killing including the use of carbon monoxide gas. Specially designed and built trucks were used to transport Jews who were gassed by carbon monoxide from the vehicles emissions. Because of the sheer numbers of Jews to be exterminated, however, it was becoming increasingly clear to the Nazi hierarchy that an even more efficient means of mass killing was required.
On 20 January 1942, a conference was held under the direction of the Chief of Security Police, Reinhard Heydrich, in order to discuss ‘the Final Solution to the Jewish Question’. It has become known as the Wannsee Conference and was a meeting to pull together what up to that point had been an uncoordinated and inconsistent approach to exterminating Jews in various parts of the Third Reich.
Minutes of this conference were taken by Adolf Eichman who escaped from Germany after the war but who was eventually found and kidnapped from South America by Israeli agents. He was flown secretly to Israel where he was tried and subsequently executed. Only one copy of Eichman’s minutes of the Wannsee Conference survived but they provide great detail on the cold, pragmatic approach the Nazi regime applied to the mass murder of human beings.
The Nazi regime eventually murdered more than six million Jewish men, women and children in gas chambers in camps like Treblinka, Belsen and Dachau. It was organized slaughter on an industrialized scale unmatched in modern history.
To the Nazis, it was simply their final solution to what they deemed the Jewish problem. To the rest of the world it became known as ‘The Holocaust’.
On May 14, 1948 the British relinquished their control over Palestine and in a vote of 33 to 13, the United Nations declared the formation of the state of Israel. It was the world’s response to the revelations of the Nazi genocide of European Jews.
There have and continue to be holocaust deniers, of course, people who for whatever reasons refuse to accept that Jews were systematically rounded up and shipped to Eastern Europe where they were murdered in incomprehensible numbers. But no amount of denial can erase the incredible amount of evidence that survived the war and which exists to this day.
Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has aligned himself with those same deniers offering up his own unique bit of revisionist history. He has shifted responsibility for the genocide from Hitler to the Grand Mufti, the recognized Palestinian leader during the war. In an attempt to justify his own actions against Palestinians, Netanyahu claimed that it was the Grand Mufti who convinced Hitler to undertake the mass extermination of Jews. It is a claim so outrageous as to be a disgrace, especially since the killing had started before the meeting between Hitler and the Grand Mufti had taken place. More than 33,000 were slaughtered in Babi Yar in September 1941.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’ According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.”
Germany came out yesterday to condemn the Israeli Prime Minister’s comments, stating unequivocally that it was Germany not Muslims in the Middle East that planned and carried out the extermination of Jews. His comments have even come under criticism in Israel as many believe that a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth only serves to trivialize the Holocaust for cynical political purposes.
Rabid supporters of Israel are attacking anyone who dares criticize the accuracy of Netanyahu’s comments; labelling critics as anti-Semitic and racist but they are wrong, blinded by their own desperate need to believe something and refusal to accept fundamental truths which might shake those belief systems.
Blind support of deliberate fabrications and revisionist history is as dangerous to our security and safety as terrorism because it shares the same fanatical belief that anything is justified in the name of advancing the cause. But the truth is that nothing justifies distorting the truth and we support it at our own peril.
Like most Canadians, I support Israel and its right to exist. I respect Israel’s right to defend itself and am prepared to support this country’s contribution to that defense should it be called upon to do so. But I do not support any attempt to distort the truth.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has since backtracked on his comments after a considerable amount of condemnation and mockery but he has demonstrated repeatedly that he is unwilling to seek any kind of compromise solution to issues with the Palestinian Authority and seeks instead to justify his own intransigence and actions with deliberate misrepresentations of fact. He has meddled in the affairs the United States Government, Israel’s strongest ally and source of military support. He has authorized disproportionate responses against innocents, causing the deaths of more than 400 children, in response to the actions of terrorists and has repeatedly been careless with the truth. He does Israel a dangerous disservice when he attempts to revise history to justify his actions.
Israel is our friend and ally but that does not mean we must blindly accept whatever Israel does or its leaders say. Friends should be able to be openly critical of each other and nothing justifies remaining silent in the face of lies we would normally and properly condemn from other leaders and nations.
Whatever the issues between Israel and the Palestinians may be, they share nothing with the Nazi Holocaust and will not change the truth about it. Nothing Benjamin Netanyahu says will change it either.
His comments will only continue to erode support for Israel and that nation’s credibility in the world community while further undermining any hope at eventual resolution of what is already an almost impossible situation to resolve.
© 2015 Maggie’s Bear
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